This page written circa 29 February, 2020.
I realise that Great Britain might eventually come out of Brexit ahead when I recall how well they do dramatic and creative things, especially those with strong national critique, that area where the USA fails. Years and Years is an example. As one reviewer said "If this program does not scare the crap out of you then you aren't paying attention." An unnervingly plausible prediction of the future, payed out at the rate of 1 year per episode, it plays out with the surety of a Shakespearian tragedy, complete disaster averted only because the fool's advice is taken in the nick of time.
If there has been a long silence in these pages, it is because we spent 88 days in Sydney over summer. And what a summer Sydney had. Upon arrival in Sydney, bushfires broke out to such an extent that the air became 'very unhealthy' and on some days 'hazardous' according to the international standards for air quality. I am accustomed to check the weather before I leave the house, but never before the atmosphere. For the first time, both California and New South Wales were seriously on fire at the same time. On some days it was physically unpleasant to go outside. I purchased an air purifier for the flat. Kay became increasingly unhappy cooped up, and campaigned strongly for an early return. Extreme heat waves started in January, with days surpassing 43C air temperature. With Eric's help, Kay and I installed an air conditioner. Next came rains that quenched many bushfires, but eventually caused floods. We had to start leaving via the back door, because the front of the apartment block flooded. We live pretty much on the ridge of the hill, so it is not like the place is prone to damp or flooding. The electricity room went under several cm of water. Good thing all the circuits run through its ceiling.
If something good came out of it, I discovered that I sleep better with an air purifier. Much better. So much better I ordered one for Hillcrest as well. A proper HEPA filter is the reason. It traps 99.95% of anything bigger than 300nm. Very impressive.
Things could be much worse, and may well become so. Much of China is in lockdown over the covid-19 outbreak. A declaration of pandemic is still a possibility. We mostly pay attention to this because the absence of fee-paying Chinese students threatens to bankrupt universities. From my point of view the price of power tools, heatpumps, and much else will likely take an upward hike. Plus we may get sick with a 2% chance of being unlinked from our souls. We should know by April Fool's day.
The leaders of the USA, the UK, and Australia are all climate change deniers, or at least committment avoiders. This is self-interest, not ignorance. Willful blindness.
If what is happening to universities does not scare the crap out of you then you aren't paying attention to that either. It is pretty much smaller budgets and more layers of management, and all run pretty much like any other sort of business, with decisions made on too short a timescale and without enough warning to enough people for any sensible plans to be implemented. Every shop I know sells engineers seriously less educated than anything I saw from the 20th century. It is said to be the same from England to Russia. The wondrous thing is that this manageriality is openly acknowledged. Neither the advice of detached fools nor acknowledged wise men comes into consideration.
The fool's advice was witheringly delivered: "This is all your own fault, because you said nothing... you let this happen." Nobody in university management says anything either.